The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst chatted on April 18 with Bill Bryant, chairman of Seattle-based Bryant Christie Inc. Read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.
5 p.m. Tom Karst: I heard your reassuring voice in the airport, welcoming visitors in your role as Seattle’s Port Commissioner.
5:01 p.m. Bill Bryant: “Hi, this is Commissioner Bill Bryant … escalators can be dangerous.” Actually, I am going to do it one more time. I’m running for re-election (as commissioner for the Port of Seattle) this fall. It is not a secret because it has been reported in the press, but there are both Republicans and Democrats who are encouraging me to think about running for governor. I’m running for re-election for port commissioner now and then figure whether there is anything else.
5:06 p.m. Karst: As you look at the global trade picture now, are you encouraged or discouraged?
5:07 p.m. Bryant: I’m encouraged. There are always issues. Overall, trade continues to increase. The historic trend is for continuing trade flows. When I first started work in the hort industry 27 years ago, the big problems were quotas, opening dates and tariffs. You couldn’t even ship pears to Europe after a certain date in November and there was a quota on how many apples you could sell to Europe, and we had very high tariffs in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. We got rid of those issues, then there was a period of time when quarantine issues were real serious.
Many of those big quarantine issues have been addressed. Now we spend a lot of time working on very technical standards, such as international food safety standards.
5:08 p.m. Karst: What do you think the next 10 years will bring in relation to trade issues?
5:09 p.m. Bryant: The World Trade Organization talks need to be resolved. That’s an opportunity to get tariffs down even further. We need to continue to set international standards based on science. Countries, when possible, need to share data before making regulatory decisions. For one, it is cheaper for everybody, and every government is looking for ways to save money.
Rather than have every country do the same analysis, why don’t we pool it and use the common research? Right now we have a lot of governments doing the same analysis that costs everybody.
We have, right now, on the issue of chemical residues, some pilot projects on data sharing. The European Union, Canada, the U.S., Australia and a few other countries are doing some joint research. We need cooperation on regulation.